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Radio Derb Is On The Air: Occams Butterknife On Detroit
In this week’s broadcast I mention the principle of Occam’s Razor, which says that the explanation requiring fewest assumptions is the one you should favor.
I then bring up Steve Sailer’s updating of that principle for the age of Political Correctness: Occam's Butterknife, which says that when the simplest, most straightforward explanation is unacceptable to you for social or emotional reasons, look for something more complicated.
I show that Occam’s Butterknife helps us understand the “explanations” on offer from mainstream commentators for the collapse of Detroit, which range from clueless (George Will, Peggy Noonan) to bizarre (Andrew O’Hehir).
Then I lapse into anecdote:
I recall a fine example of Occam's Razor—not the butterknife, now, the original razor—from thirty or so years ago when I was doing office work in London. I had a colleague, a white guy from South Africa, who spoke with those strange flattened vowels they use. He actually pronounced the name of his country as “S’thefriceh.”
Well, chatting around the office one day I mentioned a certain district of London that was plagued with street crime. At that time my youthful liberalism had not yet altogether worn off, so I was reaching for Occam's Butterknife, positing poverty, fatherlessness, lack of public facilities, and so on as the causes of all the street crime.
My Boer friend listened for a while till his patience ran out, then he cut me off with Occam's Razor.
“It's the blecks, dear fellow,” he said. “It's the blecks.”
So it was, and so it is. I recommend that snippet of S'thefricen wisdom to Will, Noonan, and O'Hehir.